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    The Difference Between Information Governance and Data Governance

    Sep 26, 2014

    by Mark Diamond, CEO and founder of Contoural, Inc.

    What’s the difference between information governance (IG) and data governance – or are they the same thing? Is data governance a subset of IG or vice versa? These questions are popping up at a number of organizations that are considering launching an IG initiative. Typically someone from IT raises her or his hand and asks: “Shouldn’t information governance be part of our year-old data governance initiative? Do we really need two initiatives?” Be careful how you answer. This confusion has the potential to stall out your IG initiative.

    IG proponents are quick to claim that IG is “king of the mountain” and that data governance is actually a subset of IG. They claim that IG is about all the information, and since data contains information, IG should serve as the master framework. Data governance enthusiasts scoff at this, arguing that enterprise-wide management and governance of an organization’s data is a smarter approach and that IG is actually part of data governance. At stake here often is not only the supremacy of the philosophical framework, but also who will run these projects and where the dollars will go.

    I believe that IG and data governance are separate but complementary activities, albeit with a little overlap. IG mainly focuses on applying retention, privacy, collaboration, and disposition frameworks to unstructured and semi-structured data. Data governance is more often associated with “big data” projects that leverage large amounts of structured data to glean information about customers and markets.

    Perhaps the greatest distinction between the two, though, are the skills involved. An IG professional needs a background in records and information management, discovery, collaboration, disposition, and technology. Data governance requires a very different skillset of data architecture, master data management, data modelling, and integration. Privacy has a place in both areas.

    These two areas are complementary in that a well-executed IG program can feed many requirements for data governance and, to some extent, the other way around.

    If you are an IG professional in an organization that has both initiatives, don’t pick a fight trying to claim philosophical “king of the mountain.” You could win the argument, but you are more likely to lose because data governance offers the promise of increased revenue and profits. Rather, recognize that these are both important, but separate, initiatives that should complement each other.

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